We didn’t need another Pixelbook

Since the first Chromebook Pixel was released in 2013, it has held a special place in the hearts of the ChromeOS community. It wasn’t just a product, it was a preview of what the Chromebook market could become.

Unfortunately for these fans, the Pixelbook line is no more. A new Pixelbook (the spiritual successor to the original Chromebook Pixel) was “very advanced in development and should debut next year,” my colleagues Alex Heath and David Pierce reported earlier this week. But the project was scaled back “as part of recent cost-cutting measures”.

“We are committed to creating and supporting a portfolio of innovative and useful Google products for our users,” Google said. The edge in a report. It would seem that this portfolio no longer includes Chromebooks, at least not in the short term.

A cynic might see this announcement as the end of the high-end Chromebook space (Google does ChromeOS, after all). And it’s true that the consumer market for ChromeOS, in general, is shrinking, and convertible laptops (which the Pixelbook was) are no longer in vogue.

I think there’s another point of view, though: the Pixelbook has served its purpose, and that purpose is no longer needed. It’s a view that’s more consistent with the approach Google has often taken with the Pixel line of hardware over the years.

“We are committed to creating and supporting a portfolio of innovative and useful Google products for our users.”

2013, the year of the Chromebook Pixel, was a different world. This device was not really a device. It was a vision. I mean, the thing had a starting price of $1,299. Even today’s HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, widely criticized for its high price despite basically flawless hardware, starts at $150 less than that (and that’s with inflation and all). 2013 ChromeOS – I think even diehard fans can agree – was nowhere near where it is now.

It seems clear that Google had no intention of making a device that people could, shall we say, buy. The goal was to show manufacturers what was possible.

The 2017 Pixelbook was the same kind of deal. Its chassis stood out, not just among Chromebooks, but among laptops in general. It was less than half an inch thick and there was no fan before this one became a trend. I still remember the day the review unit came into the office where I was working at the time. I remember he was circulating around the offices, every employee wanting a chance to see him for himself. Until now, we’ve only seen ChromeOS on ugly clunkers – the fact that it could power such a groundbreaking chassis was a novel idea for a lot of the public. No one planned to buy it, but everyone wanted to take a look.

The aim was to show other manufacturers what could be done

Was the Pixelbook a bestseller? I can’t imagine – and, of course, Google hasn’t done any other. The Pixelbook Go was great, but it occupied a different product category (and a slightly lower price) than its predecessor. It also didn’t come close to the covet-worthy, boundary-pushing design of the 2017 model.

But I think the Pixelbook has led to a certain mindset shift in a lot of tech media. It didn’t just illustrate that ChromeOS could exist and thrive in a fancy chassis. It planted the idea in their heads that there might be a world – not in 2017, but maybe in the not so distant future – where paying $1,000 for a ChromeOS device wasn’t totally crazy. As Mashable wrote in its glowing review: “The majority of Chromebooks are and probably always will be underpowered garbage. But that doesn’t mean every Chromebook has to be. »

The HP Dragonfly Chromebook in tablet mode against a blue and pink background.  The screen displays MovieBeat home page.

We’re not getting another Pixelbook, but we’ve got the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/MovieBeat

We’ve told this story before on Pixel-branded products. Look at the Pixel phone. It’s hardly on the verge of becoming a major player in a market that Apple and Samsung very solidly dominate, but Google continues to offer them to present its operating system on its own terms. The next Pixel Watch, fresh out of Google’s acquisition of Fitbit, is also about to enter a market where Android devices haven’t been at their best, where an example may be sorely needed.

2022 isn’t 2013. There are now ChromeOS options in the HP Dragonfly and Lenovo ThinkPad lines – two of the most established high-end laptop families in the history of two undeniable leaders in building high-end hardware. quality. Asus has done all sorts of great things with the OS, including the high-end Chromebook CX5 (which is virtually indistinguishable from a high-end Windows laptop) and the Chromebook Detachable CM3 with a dual kickstand. folding.

The ChromeOS space no longer needs Google to lead by example. Other companies are now installing the operating system in chassis that rival those of the best Windows-powered devices. Whether consumers are buying them now is another story.

Leave a Comment